2 Book Reviews: Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy {Lisa See}

I asked on Facebook a few weeks ago what your “go to” book is when people ask you for a recommendation.  This book is mine 🙂

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Pearl and May are sisters, living carefree lives in Shanghai, the Paris of Asia. But when Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, they set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America.

In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.

My Thoughts:

5 Stars

(Disclaimer: I will never post spoilers in my reviews HOWEVER the comment section is completely fair game to discuss any and all specifics including spoilers)

I LOVE THIS BOOK.  Everything about it is so interesting and fascinating.  I couldn’t put it down!  Extremely well written in every way.  The characters, the settings, the many story lines…all of it combines to tell a truly intricate and interesting story.

I read it (twice!) many years ago and have thought about it about a million times since. This book taught me so many things all while telling such a amazing story.  After I recommended it to a friend of mine, she told me that she felt smarter after reading it! I completely agree.  It’s so well written, so fascinating, and so brutally honest.  It will truly take you on a JOURNEY and will leave you breathless at the end.  It’s such a wonderful book and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here is the sequel:


I don’t want to put a synopsis or any true details here because I don’t want to spoil anything if you haven’t read Shanghai Girls: A Novel yet!   Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Shanghai Girls) was…good.  Not nearly as amazing as it’s predecessor.  After you read Shanghai Girls: A Novel, you will want to read this one just to learn about what happens to the characters but honestly, I found it to be just ok. I think Shanghai Girls: A Novel would have been just fine as a stand alone novel.

Bottom Line:

I sold my copy of Dreams of Joy: A Novel (Shanghai Girls) at a garage sale years ago but held on to my copy of Shanghai Girls: A Novel!

And…as I just flipped my copy of Shanghai Girls: A Novel over, I was greeted by this lovely sticker.  Can we just take a moment of silence for my all time favorite bookstore? RIP, Borders.  I really miss you, old friend.

What’s your “go to” book when people ask you for a recommendation?

Have you read either of these books?

Do you miss Borders as much as I do?

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Click the images below to order the books through my Amazon affiliate link.  When you order through this link, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for your support, Xo

8 thoughts on “2 Book Reviews: Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy {Lisa See}

  1. I only read one book by Lisa See…SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN. I don’t know why I never picked up SHANGHAI GIRLS. Have you read MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA? I love that book. My go-to recommendation is always SHE’S COME UNDONE by Wally Lamb.
    I miss Borders too! In THE LAST FIVE YEARS, Borders is mentioned in a song. They changed it to Target for the movie version.


    1. Oh you must read Shanghai Girls! I LOVED Snow Flower and the Secret Fan but for some reason have not read Memoirs of a Geisha. I have picked up She’s Come Undone a million times to read but have never actually read it. Now I will 🙂 That’s so interesting about The Last Five Years…cool fact!


      1. Memoirs of a Geisha is amazing, a must read. Jenny, add it to your list!! And She’s Come Undone is pretty good too.


  2. When people ask me for book recommendations, I ALWAYS suggest the following: Those Who Save Us, Sarah’s Key, anything by Kristin Hannah, I Know This Much is True, The Glass Lake and Shantaram.


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